KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Division of Forestry began enforcing required burn permits Sunday.

The permits are required for anyone who wants to burn debris on their property. While these permits are only required by the state from October 15 to May 15, Knox County requires a burn permit year-round.

Jeff Bagwell with the Rural Metro Fire Department said burn permits are necessary to ensure the burns won’t turn into a bigger problem.

“We want to make sure the conditions are good as far as the amount of rainfall that’s happened, the moisture that’s in the ground content and ensure that we don’t have a bigger conflagration of a wildland fire come from that,” he said.

When someone receives a burn permit, a list of rules surrounding how to conduct the burn comes with it.

“The size, the scope, what you’re actually burning, and the fact that it has to be out by dusk,” Bagwell explained.

Bagwell also said unsafe burning can lead to disaster.

“Wildfires have to start from somewhere and usually it starts at the hands of humans, in the sense of a campfire or a brush fire, some kind of a wildland fire that somebody is burning outside,” he said.

A permit is needed for any open-air fire that is within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland and burning trash is not allowed.

“Last year and in the spring of this year, we had several cases where we had outbuildings, barns and wooden fences burned because of a brush pile that had burned to the point where most people would think that it’s pretty much out,” Bagwell explained. “A gust of wind comes along, catches an ember and pushes it and fuels it into a barn and that pushes it into an outbuilding and into a wooden fence and could potentially push it into somebody’s house.”

Some cities have their own burn rules and regulations. If you plan to burn debris within city limits, check with the city first.